The Manhattan Project

Working Conditions

John Fox

John is a mechanical engineer who worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Battelle. He later served as mayor of Richland, WA and president of the B Reactor Museum Association. In this interview, Fox recounts his experiences working at Hanford during the Cold War and the Korean War in the 1950s. He discusses the reprocessing ban instituted by the Carter Administration and the challenges that have caused delays in building the Vitrification Plant.

Michele Gerber's Interview (2018)

Cindy Kelly: It is September 11, 2018. I’m in Richland, Washington, Cindy Kelly. I have with me Michele Gerber, and what I’d like to ask her to do is to tell us her full name and spell it.

Michele Gerber: Michele Stenehjem Gerber. M-i-c-h-e-l-e. S-t-e-n-e-h-j-e-m. Gerber, G-e-r-b-e-r.

Kelly: Tell us a little more about your background. What did you study and how did you become interested in the history of Hanford?

Jackie Peterson's Interview

Cindy Kelly: It is Wednesday, September 12, 2018. I’m in Seattle, Washington, and I have Jackie Peterson with me. My first question to her is to tell me her full name and spell it.

Jackie Peterson: My name is Jackie Peterson. It’s J-a-c-k-i-e Peterson, P-e-t-e-r-s-o-n.

Kelly: I’d love to know more about yourself and how you got involved in this. Maybe you could start by just giving a brief bio, where you were born and when.

Jackie Peterson

Jackie Peterson is an independent curator and exhibit developer in Seattle, Washington. She curated an exhibition called “The Atomic Frontier: Black Life at Hanford” at the Northwest African American Museum from October 2015-March 2016. In this interview, Peterson describes the exhibition and what she learned about African American experiences at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. She explains how African Americans came to the Tri-Cities, the kinds of work they were able to obtain, and the (largely informal) segregation they faced.

Gayleen Meservey's Interview

Gayleen: Oh, I’m Gayleen Meservey, M-e-s-e-r-v-e-y, first name Gayleen, G-a-y-l-e-e-n.

I started as a data processing clerk at the Site in 1964, following a short stint in San Francisco at a technical school to train me to operate data processing machinery. We were actually involved in measuring the reactions that the scientists produced in the reactors, giving them the data that would help them to predict the tests and to go on.

Gayleen Meservey

Gayleen Meservey grew up in Idaho Falls, and worked at Idaho National Laboratory. She describes the bus rides to and from the lab, which often involved card games and occasionally getting stuck in the snow. She discusses the positive relationship between the laboratory and the town, and how the influx of scientists transformed the town and the state. She also explains the incredible change in computers from the 1960s through the early 2000s, and what it was like to work on early computers.

Bill Ginkel's Interview

Cindy Kelly: All right. We can start with something very simple. Tell us your name and spell it.

Bill Ginkel: I’m Bill Ginkel, G-i-n-k-e-l. I came to Idaho in 1950 out of the Manhattan Project and its successor agency. I was actually employed by the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge in connection with material accountability at the time, and the opportunity to come to Idaho emerged. I was a little skeptical to start with, but it seemed like an extraordinary challenge to get in at the beginning of an operation as potentially big as it was.

William "Bill" Ginkel

Bill Ginkel served as the Manager of Office Operations for the Idaho Falls laboratory of the Atomic Energy Commission. In this interview, he describes his experience working at the facility beginning in 1950. He recalls the pioneering work conducted at the laboratory and the occasional methodological divide between the scientists and engineers. He also explains the transformative effects the influx of nuclear scientist had upon the local community and the state, and why the area was referred to as “The Site.”

Richard Meservey

Richard “Dick” Meservey is a nuclear physicist who worked at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). In this interview, he describes the rewarding projects he worked on at INL including the Special Power Excursion Reactor Test and the Advanced Test Reactor. He lauds the unusual freedom that scientists enjoyed working in Idaho Falls, and explains why he came to love living in Idaho Falls.

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